A few notes about the themes, questions, hypotheses and methods behind Dust and Shadow.


  • Everything shrivels up and erodes into dust; desertification related to ecology and culture (intergenerational memory)
  • Humans come and go
  • (Engineering) mistakes cause large scale ecological transformations

Probabilistic Future Preparedness

  • Phoenix holding onto permanence
  • Civilisations with expiration dates (one moment or slow subsiding)
  • Prehearsals of obsolescence
  • Urban desert / urban wilderness


  • material wonder & wander
  • layered time, massive scale
  • beyond human relationships
  • solitude and indifference
  • (i)nertness
  • naming
  • conviviality with diverse entities, different lenses of interrelation

Zombie utopias

  • Shadows
  • Ghost towns
  • Haunted utopias, vampiric utopias, parasitic utopias
  • Troubled past
  • Living but already dead (eg. Paradise City); planning for unsustainability

What are the (environmental) critical uncertainties in the region?

  • What/how to extrapolate local conditions to other deserts and environments on their way to become deserts?

What does a thalient laboratory in the desert look like?

  • How to translate animist attitudes into worldviews compatible with contemporary techno-materialist societies?
  • How to (re)animate pre-modern sensibilities without dualisms of light/dark, good/evil, love/power?
  • What arts, sciences and technologies become possible if we widen the 'sentience spectrum' and emphasize experience and interaction with diverse beings?
  • Should we refrain from speech and use the visceral language of experience?
  • How do we speak of relations as well as things?

What might urban futures in the American South West look like?

  • How to turn or move from zombie/vampiric utopias to regenerative ('log') eutopias?
  • What would a banishing ritual for haunted utopias be like?
  • Why attempt to build cities in the desert?
  • What would a pre-enactment for futures of Phoenix look like?


We can adapt or mitigate climate chaos (etc.) by changing mindset/worldview and their underlying myths.

  • Art can initiate, amplify or test this change.
  • We can draw inspiration from animism, panpsychism, shinto, shamanism, etc.
  • Any technological solutions will be perverted by existing dominant ideologies (and vice versa)
  • Myth-making and reactivating myths can animate inert geological and architectural markers
  • We need a new form of geomancy
  • There are sacred refugia and wild sanctuaries to uncover (explore/preserve)

We can become human receptors and listening devices

  • We practice the craft of silence and heterogeneous hearing to help us attune to our surroundings.
  • At all times there are other beings listening. We can hear each other if we pay attention.
  • We tread lightly seeing with new eyes. We witness and weave threads of connection with other people and places (FoAM)
  • Our language can liquefy
  • We communicate to connect, not dissect

The desert invites unencumbered experimentation, yet the desert is also unforgiving

  • It is possible to thrive in uncertainty
  • Objectives obscure progress
  • We should move from social contracts to natural contracts
  • It is possible to transform zombie utopias into fertile compost for new eutopias
  • Neo-reaction and new age are each other's flip-sides, collapsing complexity of uncertainty into platitudes


… vaporous thoughts condensed into propositions, commonplaces and fieldguides, by:

  • seeing, listening, tasting, smelling, experiencing (sensing & activating)
  • walking
  • fieldwork
  • inquiry (critical, embodied…)
  • experiential futures and speculative design
  • action research
  • contemporary rituals and peak experiences
  • contemplative practices and attunement
  • writing


  • dust_and_shadow/concepts.txt
  • Last modified: 2019-09-03 16:49
  • by maja